web analytics
August 30, 2014 / 4 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Rambam’

Joy of Motherhood in Israel after 9 Abortions in Soviet-Bloc

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

A Jewish couple from the former Soviet Bloc country of Georgia are the proud parents of a bouncing baby girl, born to the mother who was treated in Israel after having gone through nine abortions in 17 years in her home country.

Michael and Tamari Barikswili, both age 39, had all but given up hope to become parents. Their friends in the medical profession in Georgia suggested to them two years ago that they travel to Israel’s Rambam Medical Center in Haifa for examinations that might help them achieve their dream.

Last year, the couple met with Rambam’s Prof. Binyamin Brenner, head of the hematology department.

“We did not know what the problem was with us,” Michael said after the birth of their daughter Maryam last week.

After several examinations by Prof, Brenner, it became clear that Tamari suffers from a problem called in laymen’s terms “excessive blood clotting.”

It is a common problem of women who suffer from recurring abortions, and Rambam doctors have established a clear connection between the malady and abortions.

Tamari’s problem was identified through a simple blood test, which the couple said was not available in Georgia, where the standard of medicine is far below that of Israel.

They returned to Georgia but turned again to Rambam because of her history, and in her 13th week of pregnancy, they rented an apartment in Ramat Gan, adjacent to Tel Aviv and traveled back and forth to Haifa for examinations and constant monitoring.

“After the couple went through so much to become parents, everything becomes all the more significant,” notes Dir. Ido Sholat, of the Rambam unit overseeing women with difficult pregnancies.

“During all the months of check-ups, there were many different emotions, pressures and fears,” he added. “But the moment we saw that the pregnancy was advancing normally, all of us began to relax and enjoy this tremendous experience,” he adds.

Tamari said after the birth, “It is not so simple to go through all this when we are in Israel and everyone in the family is Georgia. But we waited 17 years for this, and I was prepared to do anything to become a mother.”

She and her husband kept in touch with family through e-mails and Skype and sent videos and pictures.

Michael and Tamari went back to Georgia with their daughter this past Sunday but they promise to return to Rambam next year – with a brother for sister for Maryam.

Next Israel Shekel Bills to Feature Sephardi Jew

Sunday, April 28th, 2013

The Netanyahu government is going “politically correct” and will make sure the next serious of Israel shekel bills will feature a Sephardi Jew following last year’s four new banknotes that featured only Ashkenazi Jews.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Sunday he personally prefers that the “Sephardi shekel bill” feature poet Rabbi Yehuda HaLevy, calling his poetry “genius.”

Knesset Member Aryeh Deri of the Shas Sephardi religious party sharply criticized the monopoly of Ashkenazi Jews on the most recent series.

“Money adorned with an image of a Mizrahi figure is not worth less,” he said.

The Rambam, Moses Maimonides, was featured on a banknote in 1980 but is only widely-known Sephardic to be seen on Israel money.

Modern Orthodox Students Meet to ‘Slam’ in Poetry Combat

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

It wasn’t exactly the Jets and the Sharks meeting for a rumble, but the competing schools had distinctive styles and there were some elements of scrappy street fighting vs. a more refined approach to battle.

On Tuesday, February 19, seven Modern Orthodox high schools from New York, New Jersey and as far south as Philadelphia, met at SAR High School in Riverdale, New York for a Slam Poetry Competition.

Slam Poetry, or “Spoken Word,” is a form of oral expression that combines elements of traditional poetry and the urban music style of rap. The subject matter of Spoken Word is very often personal, dealing with emotional conflict, the generational divides or one’s role in the larger world. It began in the mid-1980′s and took hold in particular in Chicago, New York City and San Francisco.  It has since spread all over the world, but remains an art form that appeals to and draws from a largely young, urban population.

As an experimentalist art form there are few rules: no props, costumes or music, and each piece can be only three minutes long.  Spoken Word is performance driven – while the writing is an essential part of the finished product, the delivery – that is, the visual aspect – is critical.  Spoken Word competitions – known as slams – take place in rounds with poets competing against each other, and experienced poets as judges.

The Yeshiva University Poetry Slam League had its roots in a poetry journal Mima’amakim, created by several Yeshiva University students including Aaron Roller, a former Rambam Mesivta student, and Hillel Broder, a current SAR teacher.

After Roller and Broder graduated, they decided to create a slam poetry league for the Modern Orthodox schools in the greater New York City environs. It combined elements of traditional slam poetry, but with a decidedly Jewish – not comedic shtick Jewish – bent. Roller and Broder joined up with Hillel Goodman, assistant principal of Rambam Mesivta, who was the first coordinator of the Yeshiva League.

Broder, who coordinates the SAR team, told The Jewish Press they view the YU Slam Poetry League as a continuation of the Jewish tradition of religious poetry.

“We look to Rabbi Yehuda HaLevi, the great Spanish poet of the medieval age, and his schools of poets and poetry,” Broder explained to The Jewish Press.  “We see David HaMelech, the great psalmist, as the progenitor of this project, writing with the knowledge that our religion’s essential language of Tehillim is structured in the deep and condensed language of poetic expression.”

Broder says he and the SAR administration see this form of artistic expression as “an opportunity for d’veykut, cleaving to God, developing awareness of the divine.”

The League officially began a year and a half ago, with three competitions in the 2010-2011 school year; this year there will be four.  Roller, the driving force behind the mima’amakin movement, is now the league coordinator and is always one of the judges.

At the February 19 Poetry Slam, 45 students participated in the first round, with fourteen moving on to the second round.

Roller explained to The Jewish Press between rounds that his vision was to create an opportunity for students to have an outlet for artistic expression, as well as a format for non-athletes to interact with students in the other Modern Orthodox schools, similar to what the athletic league provides for athletes.

Because of his own background – Roller is a published poet – he is interested in encouraging the Spoken Word students to learn about different forms of poetry.  For each competition the students are required to create both a free verse poem and one that conforms to a particular verse format.  Last year, the students had to write a ghazal, a Persian poetry form that Ibn Ezra and others adopted for various slichot.  In another competition they had to use the haiku format.

At SAR on Feb. 19, the students competed in two formats, a free verse poem and a “pantoum,” a poetic form comprised of four-line stanzas in which the second and fourth lines of each stanza serve as the first and third lines of the next stanza, and the last line of the poem is often the same as the first line.

Who Were Yosef’s Eidei Kiddushin?

Wednesday, December 26th, 2012

Note to readers: This column is dedicated to the refuah sheleimah of Shlomo Eliezer ben Chaya Sarah Elka.

In this week’s parshah Yosef brings his two sons to his father Yaakov to receive blessings before his death. Rashi tells us that when Yaakov was about to bless Yosef’s sons the shechinah left him as a result of some of Yosef’s sons’ evil descendants. Yaakov then asked Yosef, “Who are these?” Rashi interprets this question to mean the following: from where did they come from that they are not worthy to receive blessings? Yosef’s answer: they are my children that Hashem gave me “bazeh – in this.” Rashi explains that Yosef showed Yaakov the shetar kiddushin and kesubah. Rashi elucidates that Yaakov’s question was based on the assumption that they were not born from kedushah – to which Yosef showed him that he married Asnas and had a proper kiddushin and nissu’in.

Many Acharonim discuss how Yosef’s kiddushin was valid, when the Gemara in Kiddushin (65b) clearly states, “ein davar shebe’ervah pachos mishtayim – any matter relating to ervah must have two [kosher] witnesses in order to be valid.”

The sefer, Yitziv Pisgam, authored by the Klausenburger Rebbe, suggests that perhaps Yosef did kiddushin via hoda’as ba’al din (admitting that they married). He suggests that this is the meaning of the word “bazeh” that Yosef used, for the Torah source that one’s admission is acceptable as testimony is from the pasuk in Parshas Mishpatim: “ki hu zeh.” Therefore Yosef’s answer to his father that he performed kiddushin using hoda’as ba’al din is derived from the word “zeh.”

However, the Gemara in Kiddushin 65b discusses whether hoda’as ba’al din would suffice for kiddushin. Regarding monetary matters, if one admits that he owes money his testimony outweighs the testimony of even 100 actual witnesses. But whenever his admission affects others, he is not believed. The Gemara says that regarding kiddushin one’s admission affects others – and is therefore not believed.

The Rishonim disagree as to whom the admission affects. Rashi (Kiddushin 65b) and Tosafos (Gittin 4a) say that it affects the relatives of the man and woman, with the relatives now forbidden to the new couple. The Rashba writes that it affects all the men in the world who cannot marry her since she is a married woman. However, according to both explanations, hoda’as ba’al din would not have been applicable to Yosef. So how was his kiddushin valid?

I want to suggest that prior to mattan Torah this halacha would have been different. The Rambam writes in Hilchos Ishus 1:1 that before mattan Torah, if a man and a woman would agree to marry and wanted to live together they would simply live together. The act of living together was a union that rendered a woman as married, forbidding her to be with anyone else. Many believe that bnei Yisrael, prior to mattan Torah, only had a status of Yisrael l’chumrah. Since Yosef and Asnas could have simply lived together, thereby rendering her as forbidden to the entire world (as bnei Noach), there was no problem that their hoda’ah would deem her forbidden – since they could have forbade her without kiddushin.

This suggestion only fits according to the Rashba, who explained that the people affected by hoda’as ba’al din of kiddushin are all the men in the world who the woman becomes forbidden to as a result of their admission. Since they have the ability to forbid her without their admission, they can also do so by admitting that they are married. However, according to Rashi and Tosafos, the relatives of the man and woman would not become forbidden to them if they would simply live together. So we still need to explain how, in their views, the kiddushin was valid.

Perhaps I can suggest another solution to answer the question in accordance with Rashi and Tosafos’s view. According to many, bnei Yisrael, prior to mattan Torah, had the status of bnei Yisrael. But they had to undergo a gerus process in order to achieve that status. The Maharal (Gur Aryeh, Parshas Vayigash 46:10) says that even though they were born to a mother who had already performed the gerus process, the offspring would have to convert as well. A ger is considered as not related to his biological relatives. The Maharal explains that this is how Shimon was allowed to marry Dina, his sister from his mother and father – as they were not related (they were gerim). It also explains how Yaakov married two sisters.

Warning! Xmas!

Sunday, December 23rd, 2012

With Santa Claus scheduled to arrive any minute, here are a few pre-Xmas warnings. Be sure to stay away from Xmas parties, non-kosher wine, frivolity, and kissing Suzy under the mistletoe. If there’s a Xmas party at the office, tell them you have a stomach ache. On Xmas day, keep as far away from their festivities as possible. Since Christians are considered idolaters, on their holiday it’s best not to have any business with them at all (Rambam, Laws of Idol Worship, Ch.9, 1-4).

Don’t be fooled into thinking that those twinkling Xmas lights are romantic, and that exchanging gift-filled stockings and candy canes is a harmless gesture of love. Remember, in the name of brotherly love, the Xtrians massacred millions of Jews throughout history. The color red that you see everywhere at Xmas-time is the blood of the Jews.

If I were in the Diaspora on Xmas, I’d spend the whole day locked in the john. It’s a lot purer there than out on the street. Xmas is the most impure day of the year. Its cloud of impurity is 100 times greater than the radioactive cloud that spread out over Hiroshima after the bomb was dropped. All over the world, in America, and Europe, and countries all over the globe, hundreds of millions of people are paying homage to Western civilization’s best loved idol worship.

The prohibition against idol worship tops the list of the Ten Commandments. No one is allowed to make or worship a graven image. As the Rambam explains, “The essential principle concerning idolatry is that people are not to worship anything created – neither angel, planet, star, the elements, or something derived from them.” That includes worshiping a man, and bending down to a statue, and praying to Buddhas, Hindu monkey gods, totem poles, crucifixes, and the like. I would post a few photos in illustration, but it is even forbidden to gaze upon the picture of an idolatrous figure, as it says, “Turn not after their idols” (Vayikra, 19:4. See Rambam, 2:2, loc. cited).

In Rabbi Kook’s writings on Christianity, he explains that it began as a break-away sect of Judaism which grew in influence and ultimately led the world astray with its doctrines. He categorizes it as idol worship, and says that its founder brought the majority of the world to err by serving a god other than the Almighty. By abandoning the mitzvot, Christianity enshrouded the world in a seemingly legitimate offshoot of idol worship. While imitating many of Judaism’s values and beliefs, Christianity actually led the world away from the true service of God.

Referring to Christianity’s renegade founder, the Rambam writes: “Can there be a greater stumbling block than this one? All of the Prophets spoke of the Messiah as the redeemer of Israel, and its savior, who would gather the dispersed and strengthen their observance of the commandments, while this one caused the annihilation of Israel by the sword, and caused its remnants to be scattered and scorned. He caused the Torah to be altered, and brought the majority of the world to err, and to serve a god other than the Lord…” (Laws of Kings and Their Wars, Uncensored version, Mosad HaRav Kook edition, Ch11).

This is what we affirm several times a day in the concluding“Aleynu” prayer. The following verse is deleted in many prayer books used in the Diaspora, but here in Israel, we say it concerning the nations, “They bow down to vanity and emptiness, and pray to a god that cannot save.”

The “Aleynu” prayer expresses our heartfelt wish that idol worship be uprooted from the earth, and that the world come to understand that God alone is the One and Only King, “We hope, therefore, Lord our God, soon to behold Your majestic glory, when the abominations will be removed from the earth, and the false gods exterminated; when the world will be perfected under the reign of the Almighty, and all mankind will call upon Your Name, and the wicked of the earth will be turned to You. My all the inhabitants of the world realize and know that to You every knee must bend and every tongue vow allegiance….”

There is no question that we have a lot of problems and challenges facing us in Israel, but at this time of the year, I have to take time-out from the headlines to thank Hashem for granting me the incomparable blessing of living in His Holy Land, and not in the spiritually polluted lands of the Diaspora, where Christmas is being celebrated in all of its insidious force and make-believe holiness.

Shabbos Mevorchim Teves

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

Our Jewish calendar is based on the lunar year, and Rosh Chodesh, literally the head of the month, occurs when the moon renews itself. It is a holiday — in that we daven mussaf, just like on Shabbos and Yomim Tovim, we do not conduct fasts, and the pious among our people eat a special seudah. Traditionally, women do not sew on Rosh Chodesh and refrain from performing heavy-duty tasks.

Rosh Chodesh was presented to women as a special reward for not partaking in the construction of the Golden Calf; when their husbands asked them wives for their gold rings, the women refused to hand them over for this purpose.

Originally, the days of Rosh Chodesh were intended to be a gift for the people in merit of the twelve tribes, but the tribes forfeited their entitlement to this benefit when they sinned with the Golden Calf, and the holiday was subsequently given to women who did not participate in the fiasco.

The Pirkei d’Rebbe Eliezer further states that just as the moon regains its youth at the beginning of each month, woman will be rewarded in the World to Come by being rejuvenated every month. One cannot help but note the contrast between this and Avraham Avinu’s request of Hashem — that man be endowed with visible signs of aging, so that the age difference between father and son could be discerned and proper respects be conferred upon the elder. (This was the first time since Adam HaRishon that the concept of zekeinim came into being.)

This Shabbos we bentch the new month of Teves, which falls on Friday (December 14 on the English calendar) and heralds the month that saw the birth and passing of Avraham Avinu, as well as the birth of Shimon, the second son born to Leah Imeinu.

The yahrzeits of many luminaries are celebrated during this month, among them the Rambam (20 Teves), the Baal HaTanya and the Shem MiShmuel (24 Teves), and Rav Shamshon Raphael Hirsch and HaRav Pinchas Hirschprung (27 Teves). Here I must add that I had the distinct honor of being in the presence of HaRav Hirschprung z”l but fear I was much too young to appreciate the privilege or even to properly absorb the import of his teaching at our Rosh Chodesh assemblies in Bais Yaakov of Montreal eons ago.

A couple of striking calamities befell us during this month: Ezra HaSofer and Nechemya ben Chachalya passed away on the ninth day of Teves, and it was on the tenth day of the month (Asara b’Teves) that the king of Babylon lay siege to Jerusalem, which eventually led to the destruction of the Bais HaMikdash on Tisha b’Av.

The eighth day of Teves saw the Greeks coercing the seventy-two Sages of Israel to translate the Torah into Greek — a most unfortunate occurrence that brought spiritual darkness upon the Jewish people. The last two lights of Chanukah that are lit in the month of Teves serve to illuminate all of its days and to nullify its forces of evil.

* * *

The Rambam in his later years had served as personal physician to the king of Egypt. Thus, upon the Rambam’s passing, the king ordered that a magnificent carriage drawn by six horses escort the holy man’s remains to Eretz Yisrael. The aron was escorted by thousands of weeping Jews.

Upon entrance to the Holy Land, hundreds more joined the procession — but along the way an argument broke out between the Jews of Jerusalem and those of Teverya; the former wanted their Rebbe to be interred in the holy city, while the latter insisted that he be interred next to his kin in Teverya.

In the midst of this altercation a band of robbers intercepted the group, forcing its members to abandon the carriage as they ran for cover. The horses then broke into a gallop and didn’t break stride until they arrived in Teverya, where they came to rest near the kevarim of the Rambam’s relatives.

Needless to say, this was taken to be the Rambam’s way of signaling his preferred burial place.

* * *

While the Baal HaTanya was imprisoned due to the false propaganda spread by the misnagdim, he once received a personal visit from a minister who asked him to explain the pasuk in Bereishis where Hashem asks Adam “Ayeika?” (Where are you?) The visitor was intrigued: Does God not know everything?

Melachot, Permanence, And Umbrellas

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

Certain activities – such as building, tying, weaving, writing, dyeing and sewing – are not prohibited on Shabbat unless they are made to last. For example, one may tie a knot that is not tied in a professional manner and will be untied within seven days, such as shoelaces or the ribbon around the Torah scroll, on Shabbat afternoon. So too a safety pin may be used on Shabbat since it is not a form of permanent sewing. Similarly, writing or painting with fluid that fades away, or writing on a substance that does not retain script, is not a melachah in the Torah sense of the term (melachah de’oreita), though it is rabbinically prohibited (melachah derabbanan).

When do the above activities become permanent and, therefore, a melachah de’oreita? According to the Rambam, if the product lasts throughout Shabbat it is a melachah de’oreita. According to Rashi, however, it must have the ability to last forever.

May one build a structure on Shabbat if one intends to take it apart on Shabbat shortly after its use? This question is debated between two sages in the Jerusalem Talmud. Rabbi Yosi Bar Nun maintains that it is prohibited because the Mishkan itself, from which we derive the 39 melachot, was a temporary structure. Rabbi Yosah disagrees. He maintains that it is permitted because in his view the Mishkan was, in the eyes of the people, a permanent structure. They never knew when God would require them to move on and until such time they lived their lives in a state of permanence.

Whereas the Jerusalem Talmud rules in accordance with the first view, the Babylonian Talmud rules in accordance with the second and maintains that this type of structure is not considered a melachah at all. The debate is picked up by Rishonim and Acharonim in connection with the construction of a provisional tent on Shabbat. According to the Rif, this is a melachah de’oreita. According to the Rambam, it is a melachah derabbanan. And according to Rashi and the Rosh, constructing a provisional tent is permissible in the first place.

Based on the above authorities who prohibit the construction of a provisional tent on Shabbat, the Noda Beyehudah considered the opening of an umbrella on Shabbat a melachah de’oreita and prohibited its use in his community, even if opened before Shabbat, because onlookers would think it was opened on Shabbat (marit ayin).

Conversely, basing himself on the authorities who permit the construction of a provisional tent on Shabbat, the Chatam Sofer maintains that using an umbrella on Shabbat is not even a melachah derabbanan and he did not object to it in his community in the presence of an eruv.

The consensus of opinion among today’s poskim prohibits the use of an umbrella on Shabbat even in the presence of an eruv. The Chofetz Chaim prohibits it because, irrespective of its temporary nature, it is intended to be used as a tent for protection against the elements. The Chazon Ish prohibits it because it makes Shabbat look like a working day. Rav Ovadia Yosef, after summarizing all the authorities for and against, sides with the authorities who prohibit it.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/halacha-hashkafa/melachot-permanence-and-umbrellas/2012/12/06/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: